Remember the euphoria that swept Bear Nation last year when news broke that we had traded for Jay Cutler?
I remember exactly where I was: Before packing up to leave the office for the day, I took one last look at espn.com to find my prayers were answered – the Bears had just landed their franchise QB! I shouted (by corporate America standards) “YES!” over my cubicle wall and proceeded to call/text any and every one of my Bear, Viking or Packer fan friends.
I wasn’t as excited when the Bears inked Julius Peppers (for a cool $92 mil) back in March. But the more I think about it, the more geeked I get about the possibilities JP brings to the 2010 Bears.
In fact, I think he’s more important to the Bears playoff chances (and Lovie’s head coaching future in Chicago) than last year’s savior, Jay Cutler.
1) Peppers’ play will have a greater impact on more of his teammates than Cutler.
Sure, Jay Cutler helped introduce the world to Devin Aromashodu and Johnny Knox. But Cutler alone can’t dictate the success of the offense. He needs time to throw and a running game to complement his aerial attack.
Now, consider the impact Peppers will have on his running mates. Lining up Peppers on the outside will make every position on his unit better. Here’s how…
- Free up space for Urlacher and Briggs to roam and make plays.
- Draw an extra blocker, which will mean less resistance to the opposing backfield for fellow linemen like Harris, Harrison and Anderson.
- Save Bowman, Tillman and other DBs valuable seconds in coverage by generating more consistent pressure on the opposing QB, giving him less time to think/throw.
- Give Special Teams coach Dave Toub an extra ball swatter to cram the middle of the line on opponents’ field goal and extra point attempts.
- Make Bears left tackle Chris Williams better by forcing him to ‘bring it’ every day in practice.
2) Quarterback play by Chicago signal callers is WAY over-rated when determining the team’s success.
What do Jim Harbaugh, Steve Walsh, Mike Tomczak and Rex Grossman have in common? These gunslingers guys have actually led a Bears team to the playoffs. To circumstances both directly related and unrelated to his play, Cutler hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in his 4-year career.
And consider this…two of the top 3 all-time seasons by a Bears QB – as far as TDs and yardage go – were by Erik Kramer in 1995 (29 TDs, 3,838 yards) and the aforementioned Cutler last year (27 TDs, 3,666). Neither performance resulted in post-season play.
All eyes will be on Peppers next week when training camp opens…including mine. I’ll be there next Sunday for the afternoon practice to witness #90’s freakish talents for myself.
Anyone else going? If so, look me up. I’ll be the dude sporting the Curtis Enis throwback jersey (That’s #44 for those of you who erased the Dick Jauron era from your personal memory card).